Mineral Resource Extraction and Zimbabwe’s National Security: Case of Artisanal Gold Mining in Mazowe

Artisanal gold mining (AGM) is a grave problem in Zimbabwe that threatens the country’s national security for it effect environmental, economic, water, food, and physical insecurities. The ensuing study investigates the drivers of AGM, effects of AGM on the country’s peace and security, and, suggest ways in which the AGM-induced security challenges can be mitigated. The findings made herein show that inasmuch as the economic motivation shapes the AGM, but there are a myriad of factors and actors active in shaping the sector. So, there is need for an integrated stratagem; pronouncing the entire range from grassroots poverty relief actions to “high level” political will, attending good governance and legal basis that consider AGMiners as citizens with rights and responsibilities. The physical environment that offers the basic life needs is wrecked by the AGM operations that destroy farmlands, polluting and silting water bodies serving as irrigation and potable water in the country, yet threatening food security. Economically, the government is losing lot revenue from AGM because gold is smuggled out of the country. Without revenue, the government cannot build the essential infrastructure, generate employment and capital to capacitate the military and other state security agencies. Zimbabwe’s physical security is threatened as criminals and some AGMiners acquire firearms, machetes, and other dangerous weapons to defend their activities. Important to lessen AGM and guard the Zimbabwe’s national security, is the pragmatic measures, needful of inclusive effort by government and its agencies, civil society, private sector, and the media to curb AGMiners’ threats and education on the national security implications of their actions. The study is informed by Realism, Political Ecology, and Peacebuilding theoretical models. To meet the study objectives, the study adopts qualitative methodology utilizing Semi-Structured Interviews, Key Informant Interviews, Transect Walks and Focus Group Discussions amongst participants recruited using purposive sampling technique.

Keywords: Environment security, Food security, Insecurity, Physical security, Security, Threat